On Shame and Shyness
Far up the canyon a fold of orange rock slices a juniper-strewn hillside in half. Down low the rock fades from orange to gray and then finally green. Here the rock cuts into the river forcing the body of water to swerve drastically as it rounds the bend. The stone is beautiful, carved and polished fine by the flow. Here deep emerald pools form along the cliffs. Sunlight fractures the clear water and illuminates colorful stones and pebbles along the banks where the water is shallow, but the light just reflects off the surface of those deep silent pools, the black water swirling around and around, around for an eternity there in darkness.
I was dying. Some demented form of bacteria was eating away at my body from the inside out and I was shitting blood uncontrollably. They were rushing me off to somewhere in the hospital - another MRI, CT Scan, or X-Ray or something. I remember my mother and father’s faces there above me as I lay in the bed being wheeled down yet another identical hallway, their faces pale and their eyes gaunt. My body was a chaotic free for all where the rogue bacteria battled it out with the cancer cells and chemotherapy. I remember too the young nurse who was along to care for me and even then while dying thought to myself Why?! Why did she have to be so damn cute… to make it worse she was kind, looking me in the eyes with a tender smile, talking about music, what bands do I like? I averted my eyes in shame as I shit more blood into a pan. Just let me die, little miss. Wheel me outside and let me die alone in the sunshine.
Robert Bly wrote that his whole life had been a series of shynesses… and now, in the wake of my Meditation on Death I find that I myself am no longer shy. It’s funny how that goes. I shed my shyness along with my dignity and when it was gone wondered why I should miss it. Women no longer have a magnetic pull on me and my thoughts, I can meet them on an even plain, look into their eyes, eyes like the deep pools of water that form around bends in the river, and the mystery is still there - all that I will never understand about Her remains unknowable - but I could care less about the mystery, I could care less about the hidden treasures, or Fountains of Youth, or the Nirvanas and enlightenments that lay beyond them… I may have become strangely enlightened myself in a way, having found some truth in what the Buddhists believe, that happiness can not be gained by clinging to things - to life, people, our pasts nor hopeful futures. Peace will not be had while hanging on, instead wholeness is found in letting go.